Nigella’s Rocky road with a twist: vegetarian dessert!

There is nothing quite as delicious as a big batch of homemade rocky road! Are you feeling down? Treat yourself with this rich, chocolate dessert and a nice cup of tea, and the sun will shine again! I mean, what is better than a bunch of candy covered with chocolate?

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I recently made this vegetarian version of Rocky Road for the purpose of this blog post. But family came over unexpectedly, and I was SUPER happy to be able to serve desert fresh out of the freezer! (After having taken all of the pictures I needed for this blog post, of course!) This is an excellent desert to have in your freezer for surprise visits. If you’re into cooking, check out my recipe for homemade granola cookies (organic, with chocolate!), my pink cupcakes or my peach-and-fudge jam recipe for hardcore people.

The thing about Rocky road, is that it is often made with marshmallows. However, since I’ve been a vegetarian for the last decade, I can’t eat marshmallows. I found a great recipe on Nigella’s website and I adjusted the recipe into a vegetarian dessert. You can find the original recipe of Nigella’s Rocky Road Crunch Bars through this link.

For the vegetarian version, you will only need a couple of ingredients:

  • 125g of soft butter
  • 300g of chocolate of your preference (I used milk chocolate) + 100g extra
  • 3 spoons of Maple syrup
  • +/- 150g of chopped nuts
  • +/- 150g of Almond biscuits
  • Strawberries, raspberries etc. to eat with your dessert

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First step: chop the chocolate, biscuits and nuts into fine pieces. Put the biscuits and the nuts into a big bowl. Next, melt the butter and the chocolate together au bain marie.

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Rocky road vegetarian

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This is looking so delicious!

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Once the butter and chocolate have melted completely, add a few spoons of maple syrup, and stir well.

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Second step: pour this golden liquid over the chopped nuts and almond cookies and mix well. Put everything in a big baking dish and let it set in the fridge overnight.

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The next day, melt some extra chocolate and pour it over the mixture. Let it set.

Once everything has cooled down, and the chocolate has set again, cut the rocky road into large chunks.

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It is super yummie! Make a big batch and share with your family, they will love you even more 😉

Happiness. Do it yourself!

 

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Cat Tipi DIY project

Today, I’m proudly displaying the cat tipi that my boyfriend made for our newly adopted kitty! If you are looking to make a tent for your pet, just follow this DIY-project, and offer it to His Highness (if you have a cat, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

This tent is loads of fun, lightweight, and customizable with all sorts of fabrics and colors!

It is also a very casual, no stress project. No measurements were taken, everything was done on the go.

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Supplies needed for this project:

  • A large piece of burlap
  • Wooden (or bamboo) sticks
  • Stitch needles + colourful thread
  • White glue

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Step 1: cut the burlap into a large circle.

As you can see, my boyfriend Christiaan used our marble table as a template to cut a big circle out of the fabric.

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He drew the outline of the table with a marker and then proceeded to cut out the shape.

Next, he put some glue on the edges to avoid that the fabric would start to fray.

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Step 2: measure the diameter of your circle and cut a whole in the center of the fabric. Secure it with glue to avoid fraying.

Step 3: start making the construction of the tent by tying the wooden sticks together. As you can see, Christiaan just used a rubber band to tie them all together.

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He then used a smaller table as support for the wooden sticks. This project is very casual and not measured out, just grab whatever you have and make it easy for yourself.

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Step 4: start draping the fabric around the wooden sticks and mark a line where the fabric overlaps. You will cut away the excess fabric and stitch both ends together.

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Cut the extra fabric, but make sure there is enough left to stitch everything together.

Christiaan used safety pins to hold the fabric in place. He then started stitching the open ends together. The fabric should fit well on the wooden construction you’ve made earlier.

Step 5: make a stitch around the wooden sticks so that everything is held into place.

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Step 6: place some smaller pieces of wooden sticks in between the legs of the tent. Use some extra strong glue to secure the structure. These pieces in between will give more stability to the pet tipi. On the bottom of the wooden sticks, the fabric has been stitched assure that everything stays in place.

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Step 7: make an opening for your pet! Cut out a piece that is big enough and start decorating. My boyfriend hand stitched the name “Lou” 🙂

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And you are done! Here are some more cute kitty pictures!

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Om nom nom

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Happiness. Do it yourself!

How to spend your summer vacation at home

Summer has decided to show the tip of its nose here in Antwerp and I’ve been loving the sunny weather. So far, my summer has been filled with slow weekends, drinking coffees in the morning and cocktails at night, blogging, exploring new things, meeting with friends, visiting family. I’m having a fabulous time!

I won’t have any time off this summer, apart from a 4-day long weekend (YEEY), which we’ll be spending in the historic town of Ieper, Belgium. I’m a little bit sad that we won’t be leaving on a big trip, but at the same time, we’ve already travelled  to Thailand earlier this year (I realise my life is not too hard…)

So what can you do when you’re spending the summer at home?

Here are some fun things to explore:

  • Make something beautiful with your own hands – plenty of tutorials on this blog!
  • Check if your town or village is offering any summer activities (tours, classes…)
  • Visit a museum or go to an arts fair
  • Catch up with your friends
  • Make dessert and/or a cocktail
  • Have a picnic in a park nearby
  • Catch the sunrise
  • Read a book (or twelve, depending what’s on your reading list!)
  • Clean out your closet
  • Relax
  • Have an afternoon filled with cupcake-tasting at different local stores
  • Send cute postcards to your family
  • Go for a walk
  • Go to the gym
  • Make a moodboard of all the things you would like to achieve this summer
  • Maybe even make a wish list of all the destinations you would like to travel to in the nearby future
  • Read a magazine with your favourite type of coffee
  • Just enjoy yourself!!

Summer makes everything lighter – so try to absorb all of that vitamin D and use it to do something that you will benefit from!

I would like to share some personal pictures of all the fun things we’ve been doing together in our city of Antwerp. It just goes to show that it can be great to stay at home, too.

We are definitely making the absolute best of it and it is only halfway through the month of July. SO. Our little dates have made me completely and deeply happy.

I wish you a fabulous summer!!

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Standing on the rooftop of MAS, a beautiful museum in Antwerp. Panoramic view!

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Boyfriend catching Pokemons at the same MAS.

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Tall Ship Race Antwerp.

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Getting coffee + breakfast (and repeat endlessly)

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Drinking cocktails

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Adopting a new kitty (named Lou).

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Spotting beautiful things in Antwerp:

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Happiness. Do It Yourself!!!

If you would like to keep in touch, follow me on Facebook or Instagram!

Homemade jam with peach and fudge

Yes, you did read that right. Peach and fudge. FUDGE!

I have a little bit of a fetish when it comes to making jam. I’m not even such a big fan of jam, but I absolutely love to make it. All of my friends and family members are aware of this, as I have often gifted a batch. When the fruit is ripe and delicious, it is time to make some jam. I call that capturing sunlight in a jar.

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Making jam is not an easy process. I’ve done it a zillion times, but I still have to pay attention not to burn myself in the process. If you would like to try out this recipe, be careful and make sure there are no small children around when you are making the jam.

The normal process for jam making is mixing 1kg of chopped fruit with 1kg of white sugar and let that cook for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the fruit. But I’m letting you in on a little secret: there is a special kind of sugar that only needs 4 minutes of boiling and the jam is ready!

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 kg of peaches and nectarines (not chopped yet)
  • 1 kg of special sugar for making jam
  • 200 g of fudge
  • 5 glass jars with a metal lid
  • A big cooking pot for the fruit
  • A cooking pot for sterilizing the glass jars
  • I found some really, really cute fabric covers for the glass jars in the store of Flying Tiger. They were 2€ per package.

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As you can see, this is a special kind of sugar with natural pectin in it. It speeds up the cooking process and you will only need 4 minutes of boiling.

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Cute pieces of fabric for covering the glass jars.

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200g of fudge. This one was “Vanilla fudge”.

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Glass jars. I filled 5 glass jars with one kilo of ingredients + 1 kilo of sugar. I recycle my empty glass jars and use them again when I make my own jam. I took this picture while the glass jars were “bathing” in hot water, so the glue of the labels could come of. Once the labels are removed, give them a wash and let them dry.

Start by chopping all of the fruit into small pieces and add them to the large cooking pot. In the end, you will need about 800g of chopped fruit, 200g of fudge, and 1kg of special sugar.

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Add the sugar and mix well.

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Next up, the fudge!

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Once chopped, add to the fruit mix and put the heat on. Once your mixture starts to boil, put your time on 4 minutes.

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I was hoping the fudge would stay chunky, but sadly it all melted during the cooking process. However, it is still absolutely delicious, peachy, warm and with a rich texture.

Once the four minutes have passed, you can just turn of the heat and let the jam rest in the cooking pot. You can then start filling the glass jars with your homemade jam.

BUT: first you need to sterilise the glass jars. The reason why you do this, is to conserve the jam well. If you did a good job, you can keep the jam for about three years in a dark and cool cupboard.

Sterilizing glass jars is a whole other thing. There are different ways of doing it (for example putting them in the oven), but I sterilise them with boiling water. I put a pot filled with water on the stove and I let it reach the boiling point. Then I add the glass jars, two at a time, with their lids (but open – otherwise they burst). I let them sit in the boiling water for about one minute and then I will get them out with some giant kitchen tweezers. This part is the most difficult when jam making. There are no picture since I couldn’t do both things at the same time 😉

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When the jars are sterilised, fill them with jam (all the way up to the edge) and secure with a lid. Now turn the jars upside down for the vacuum-effect and just let them cool down completely.

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It is absolutely delicious!

If you are looking for another recipe, here’s a link to some cute and yummie cupcakes:

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Please enjoy!

Happiness. Do it yourself!

Lovely baby doll necklace

Here on Happy DIY, we love jewelry. Most of all, we love making jewelry ourselves! One of my favorite products to work with, is polymer clay. Once you’ve mastered the art of polymer clay, the possibilities are endless. You can make yourself some rosebud earrings, or the polymer clay necklace in this tutorial.

This baby doll necklace was inspired by the light and airy summer season. I wanted to use some fresh, soft colours for a new piece of jewelry, so I made a baby doll necklace.

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These are the supplies I used:

  • Polymer clay Fimo n° 8020-105 Vanilla
  • Polymer clay Fimo n° 8023 21 Blossom
  • Jump rings, golden necklace, a lock
  • Glitter nail polish that I bought here
  • Nylon thread
  • Scissors and pliers

First, make some really big beads with the Fimo clay and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 110 °C. Let the beads cool down until you can handle them.

Next, apply a layer of glitter nail polish. I put each bead on a barbecue stick, which made it much, much easier to paint the beads. I put all of the sticks in a tall glass and let them dry for a while.

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So pretty!

Once the beads have dried and are ready to go, gather all of your supplies. Start by threading your beads together with nylon thread and attach it to a jump ring.

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Adjust the length of the necklace in front of the mirror before attaching the beads to the gold necklace. By this I mean that you should try the necklace at different heights: how long do you want the necklace to be? I ended up making a pretty long necklace, I used about 29 cm of gold necklace on EACH side.

Finally, attach a lock to the necklace. I removed the long flat pieces of metal because I didn’t need them.

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Here is the end result, I’m super happy with it!!

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If you would like to purchase this necklace, you can find it on my Etsy shop through here.

Thinking about selling jewelry as a hobby? I’ve got just the right article for you!

Happiness. Do it yourself!

 

How to sell handmade jewelry as a hobby

Today I would like to feature my dear friend, Jolien, who is the owner and founder of the jewelry brand Tea-riffic. Many of you are interested in making a living by selling your handmade jewelry, and I completely agree with you! Making jewelry is fun. So this blog post will be all about making and selling jewelry as a hobby – which is the first step towards living full time from your creativity!

How to sell jewelry as a hobby

Jolien and I go waaaay back. We actually met in 2008, when we both started studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp. We were both admitted into the first bachelor of Goldsmithing and Jewelry design. After a year, I decided the course wasn’t for me, and I took up on Art History at the University of Ghent. We kept in touch through all those years (I’m so glad!) and now that I’m living back in Antwerp, we meet up regularly. I interviewed Jolien about her jewelry business and I’m very happy to share her story here with all of you today.

  1. Where does your love for jewelry making come from, and when did you start creating your own jewelry?

“It all started during my last year of high school, when I made some pieces of  jewelry in fabric for my graduation project. It was a great experience and I knew I wanted to continue with this, so I started studying Goldsmithing and Jewelry Design at the Academy. I’ve been busy with it ever since!

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2. Do you make anything else besides jewelry?

Actually, I create lots of things, I’m not confining myself to just one thing. I like to write, to do home decor projects, I like to experiment kitchen-wise or I like to  work with fabric. I find that working with different mediums opens up the mind and works as an inspiration. I’m involved with so many creative things that the list is actually too long to describe! 🙂

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3. How did you start selling your handmade jewelry?

At one point, I didn’t have enough room to store all of my jewelry anymore, so I needed to do something with it. The question arose: why not sell these in a store? This question came from one of my acquaintances, who admired my handmade items and asked me if I could make personalised jewelry.

4. Through which platforms do you sell your jewelry?

I only sell my jewelry through Facebook because I’m not looking for a lot of attention. Right now, I would like to keep doing this as a hobby; and also to avoid the tax-administration that is involved once you get started on a bigger scale. It’s still a hobby, which means enjoying myself. I don’t want to take the spontaneity out of it.

5. What is it like to sell your items on a creative market?

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*In Belgium, small markets for creative people are organised on a regular basis. You can hire a stand and sell your stuff like a little pop-up shop*

If you are a social person and you like to chitchat with lots of different people, this is definitely something I would recommend. I really enjoy talking with all of the other creative people about their work, what inspires them, what their story is. I also like to help out my clients when they are choosing a piece of jewelry, or helping them picking the right colours etc. It is a great feeling to search for the right piece of jewelry for a particular person. This is an experience you only get to live if you go out and do this kind of thing.

6. How much do you have to pay for a stand? Do you sell enough jewelry to turn it into a profitable event?

The prices you pay for a stand always depend on the location of the stand, the city you’re in, how popular the market is, how many people are expected to show up. You can always check the prices beforehand on the website of the organisation.

It also depends on how big your stand is going to be, if you have a lot of items, if you would like to sell on a big scale or if you prefer to keep everything sober.

You can make a budget for yourself. If the price of the stand is very high, higher than your budget, it is preferable not to do it. You might not make a profit out of it. However, I’ve found that if you keep your prices low, you will always make a profit out of a creative market 🙂

7. How many people can you expect to show up?

This also depends on where the creative market is located and on how popular it is. Is it a new market? Do people already know it? Can you have a snack and a drink? Is it in the open air or in a building? One of the most important factors is the weather. It can be your best friend, but if the weather is bad, few people will actually show up.

8. How do you determine the price of your jewelry?

Mostly, I follow my gut. Sometimes, the price will be lower than it actually costs to make, but you’ll make a bigger profit if you sell more numbers of this item. Sometimes the cost of the material is low, but I will have been working on it for a long time and I’ve become quite fond of my design. In this case, I will ask a little more money for it. I also determine my prices on the originality of the design, because I know it will get replicated by other people.

In this case, I feel like my clients are also buying the idea, the creation.

But mostly, I try to enjoy myself when making my jewelry, and I try not to determine my prices on how much time I spend making said item.

9. Can you make a living from selling your handmade jewelry?

Currently, it wouldn’t be enough to make a living from it, but mostly that’s because it is not my goal. Maybe in a distant future, when times will be different for me, and I will have some money to invest and I’ll have a steady income, this could become a possibility. But mostly, I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to make things for a living. I just want to enjoy the freedom of creating.

10. Have you got any advice for people who are interested in starting their own jewelry business?

Just be aware that everything costs money and that you don’t necessarily get back what you put into it. That is why it is SUPER IMPORTANT to do this out of passion. If you keep this in the back of your mind, and if you get some help while establishing your business, you will get there step by step. Don’t rush into it, and don’t expect to be fully independent in the first two years. However, stay positive and don’t give up!”

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I would like to thank Jolien for her inside information that she so graciously shared with us today.

I would like to add a couple of things to this topic. I do believe that it is crucial to factor in all of your working hours when determining the price of your jewel. If you give yourself an hourly wage of, let’s say, 10€ per hour, and you are working on one item for half an hour, you should add 5€ to the making cost of your item. I believe you should get paid for your work, your ideas, your input. I would also recommend that you build some audience through the use of social media, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. So far I’ve noticed that Facebook is the most reliable medium for people to notice your brand.

I wish all of you good luck with your own jewelry businesses. If you would like to share your work with us, please hit the comment section below!

Happiness. Do it yourself!

 

 

How to upgrade an old t-shirt into something shiny

Hello there!

Lately, I’ve been into a gold frenzy. Everything gold, please!

One of my items on my to-do list is cleaning out my closet (really, it’s necessary), and in this context, I upgraded a plain grey tank top by adding some gold geometric sparkle to it.

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This what I made.

If you’d like to do the same, you will need following supplies:

  • A plain t-shirt. I’m really liking this grey cotton combination with the gold colour
  • A sheet of gold paper you can iron onto fabric
  • A pair of scissors
  • An iron and an ironing bord.

That’s it, really. This tutorial is also extremely quick and easy.

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Cut the gold sheet into triangles. I didn’t even measure it out, it just went with it. I positioned the triangles along the border of the neckline and then I started spreading them out as if they’re falling down.

The next step is to iron the triangles onto the shirt. It takes up to a few minutes for all of the foil to stick to the fabric.

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That is all! I read on the package of the gold iron on sheet that you should wash the t-shirt inside out.

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IMG_5049Happiness. Do it yourself!

Romantic pink cupcakes with strawberries

It’s been quite rainy in Belgium for the past couple of weeks, which is a shame because today is the first of July. The upside of rainy weather, is that it puts me in a baking mood. And what better to bake but romantic cupcakes when you are in love?

These cupcakes are  decorated with CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES. YUM.

Oh, and also, they’re the easiest thing to make, like, ever.

Are you ready? I know I am!

Pink cupcakes

You will need:

  • One pack of ready-made cake dough, available in the store
  • Pink frosting (or in my case, frosting and pink food colouring)
  • Strawberries + chocolate to melt
  • Cupcake liners and a cupcake mould for the oven

First, start by filling the mould with cupcake liners and add a spoonful of dough. Follow the instructions on the package for the baking process, but don’t bake them longer than 10 to 15 minutes.

Cupcake recipe

Check your cupcakes regularly and once they are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool down completely.

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While the cupcakes are cooling down, you can make the chocolate covered strawberries. Start by washing all of the strawberries and cutting them in two. Put them down on their flat side and cut them into a heart shape. You will do this by removing a small triangle at the top of the strawberry.

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Now it’s time to melt the chocolate. Put the chocolate in microwave-safe dish and heat it 30 seconds at a time. Be careful not to burn yourself. Dip the strawberries in the molten chocolate by using a tooth pick and put all of the strawberries on a plate. When you are done, put all of the strawberries in the fridge to allow the chocolate to set again.

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Chocolate covered strawberry

Hopefully, your cupcakes have cooled down by now. Start making the frosting. I just followed the instructions on the frosting package and added a little teeny tiny bit of food colouring. Be carefull with food colouring, as it can be very intense. I only needed the tip of a tooth pick of colouring to obtain this pink colour.

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Put a little bit of pink frosting on each cupcake and top it off with a strawberry.

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 The end! Enjoy.

Happiness. Do it yourself.